MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Cub Scout Pack 78’s Scout Hut, nestled behind the Combat Center Thrift Store, was alive with energy as the Scouts and their families gathered for the annual Pinewood Derby Jan. 30.
The source of the excitement? More than two dozen hand-carved, hand-painted dragsters and their racers, anxious to see who would be crowned the downhill champion.
The Scouts received Derby kits at a December Pack meeting and had a month to work on their entries.
The instructions were to carve, paint and add weight to their cars without exceeding the Boy Scouts of America Pinewood Derby weight limit of five ounces per entry.
For Derby newcomers Maj. Ron Storer and his Scouts, Jack, a 10-year-old Webelo, and Ryan, an 8-year-old Bear, weighting the dragsters proved to be an interesting experiment.
“The kit was basic,” said Storer, the executive officer of 1st Tank Battalion, whose M1A1 Abrams tanks weigh more than 60 metric tons. “The boys received a block of wood and four wheels and were only instructed they could not use liquid mercury to achieve the five ounce entry weight.”
Like many of the Scouts, Jack and Ryan had help with cutting the designs they drew – dad did that with a jigsaw – and the rest of the work – shaping, sanding and painting – was left to them.
“We experimented with Lego engines and finally ended up with egg sinkers from fishing lures,” said Storer, an Idaho Falls, Idaho native, who was selected to launch the cars at the start of each race. “It was our first Pinewood Derby, and I found out the day of the Derby the BSA actually sells Pinewood Derby weight kits. We’ll be more prepared next year.”
With scouts ranging in age from 6 to 12 years old, the dragsters varied in design and skill. Entries included a patriotic red, white and blue car with one dollar coins attached for weight, and a car designed to resemble an ice cream sandwich. The rest of the entries included a wide array of colors and shapes.
William Kines, a three-year veteran of Webelo Troop 78, said he set out with a design for his car to be a cheese wedge, but turned it into a hot rod halfway through the process. Changing up served him well; he took first place in Webelos and second place in the overall competition.
Gunnery Sgt. Bradley Cox, the Scoutmaster for Pack 78, and the assistant operations officer for Company B, Marine Corps Communications- Electronics School, said the competition helps reinforce Scouting values because the cars are difficult to build and there is no room for cheating.
“Pinewood Derby is about showing good sportsmanship and helps the Scouts get creative in designing their car,” said Cox, a Hermann, Mo., native, whose son Cameron placed third in the Webelo division. It also provides them an opportunity to do something with a parent or another adult. It is just a time to get together and have fun.”
This year marks the Boy Scouts of America’s 100th year as an organization, and there are numerous events planned locally and nationally throughout the year. For more information on Pack 78, visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/scout pack78/ or call 910-9564.
To connect and interact with the Combat Center, visit our Facebook page.
WINNERS OF THE 2010 PINEWOOD DERBY
1st - Matthew Perez
2nd - Kyle Boyce
3rd -Ashton Powell
1st - Nicholas Redmon
2nd - Jacob Masterson
3rd - Joseph Flores
1st - Matthew Mcklusky
2nd - Matthew Burke
3rd - Hunter Sprung
1st - William Kines
2nd - Couy Harrington
3rd - Cameron Cox
Overall Pack Winners
1st - Matthew Mcklusky
2nd - William Kines
3rd - Nicholas Redmon